A Brewing Water Chemistry Primer

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Willum

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AJ,

When you say very low calcium, what do you mean? My water only has 16ppm calcium and usually only adjust it to about 25ish. Would you call that very low? I have read 50 is the "minimum".
 

ajdelange

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I guess I'd consider anything below 20 ppm as CaCO3 hardness (8 mg/L as the ion) very low. The minimum of 50 mg/L (as the element) is often thrown out as an absolute lower level with the implications that you can't brew decent beer with less than that. This is nonsense. Lots of the benefits of calcium relate to being able to get the beer onto the loading dock faster by which I mean that low calcium beers that have been properly lagered should be every bit as good as those made with higher calcium levels.

Now chloride is, IMO, a different matter. I am coming to think that a minimum level of chloride is required for a good beer. Sort of 'supports' the flavors.
 

mabrungard

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+1 on AJ's comments. You don't HAVE to have 50 ppm Ca in the water to brew well. Its just that a brewer will probably have fewer problems when brewing with a water with 50+ ppm Ca. However, I find that a brewer can manage those problematic components and still produce fine, if not excellent beer.

I have recommended that 40 ppm Ca is the minimum a brewer needs in their water to avoid beerstone formation. That is a completely empirical observation. John Palmer mentioned a rule of thumb while AJ and I were editing the water book: calcium concentration needs to be 3 times higher than the grain's oxalate content. The problem with that was that none of us knew what a typical grain oxalate was.
 

tally350z

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Just want to check to see if this is right. I have been only using acid malt to bring my PH down for the mash, and I use Brun Water to estimate the mash ph. I don't have a ph meter so I don't know if the estimate is accurate. Thats my next thing to buy is a PH meter. Anyways I am brewing an IPA with a grist of
11.5 lbs 2-row
2 lbs munich
1 lb crystal 20
8oz carapils
Total of 9 gallons water needed. 4.9 for mash and 4.1 for sparge. I am going to dilute my water 50/50 with RO water. This will be the first time I am doing this. Anyways after I dilute I will be adding 1 g/gal Gypsum and .5 g/gal Calcium Chloride. I input these in the water additions section of the water adjustment page in Brun Water to bring my finished water profile to:
119.4 Calcium
7 Magnesium
1.5 Sodium
150.5 Sulfate
66.3 Chloride
84.1 Bicarbonate.
Do these seem acceptable ranges for an IPA?

Also with no Acid additions to the grist my PH is estimated 5.3 and since I don't have a PH meter I am a little concerned that I may need to add some.
I'm also a little confused on the total water additions on the water adjustment page. With the Gypsum and Calcium Chloride additions its calling for a total of 4.9 grams gypsum and 2.5 grams of calcium chloride in the mash, and 4.1 grams gypsum and 2.1 grams calcium chloride in the sparge. On the sparge acidification page its saying I need .77 tsp 88% lactic acid. Can I treat my water separately with the additions cause if I add the Acid addition on the water adjustment page it brings my estimated PH down to 4.8 which is too low.

I know there are a ton of questions in there but the help would be much appreciated.
 

RecruitNBrew

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Since reading this thread and building my brewing water from RO, my beers have improved dramatically!

Sorry to threadjack, but I have been digging around the internet to find an ideal water profile for coffee brewing. I use RO water at home for coffee brewing and it works horribly. I want to build my water just like I do for beer brewing.
This is the best information I could find on a target profile:

Ideal coffee/tea water profile:
No Turbidity
60-80 ppm Total Hardness
No Chlorine
150 ppm Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)
40 ppm Alkalinity (Bicarbonate)
6 - 8 pH (not sure how to adjust this since I won't be using acid malt)
0 ppm Iron

Can anyone tell me how to build this profile from RO water (lets say 5gal at a time)?????
 

ajdelange

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Just want to check to see if this is right. I have been only using acid malt to bring my PH down for the mash, and I use Brun Water to estimate the mash ph. I don't have a ph meter so I don't know if the estimate is accurate.
That's always a problem. The accuracy of the estimate will depend on how closely Bru'n Water's model of the grains you are using match the actual grains. The rest is reasonably straight forward.

That's my next thing to buy is a PH meter.
And that is, of course, the solution to the problem.

Anyways I am brewing an IPA with a grist of
11.5 lbs 2-row
2 lbs munich
1 lb crystal 20
8oz carapils
Total of 9 gallons water needed. 4.9 for mash and 4.1 for sparge. I am going to dilute my water 50/50 with RO water. This will be the first time I am doing this. Anyways after I dilute I will be adding 1 g/gal Gypsum and .5 g/gal Calcium Chloride. I input these in the water additions section of the water adjustment page in Brun Water to bring my finished water profile to:
119.4 Calcium
7 Magnesium
1.5 Sodium
150.5 Sulfate
66.3 Chloride
84.1 Bicarbonate.
Do these seem acceptable ranges for an IPA?
Possibly. It really turns on the crystal malt. If it has enough acid to offset the alkalinity of the water and base malt then pH will be low enough. If not, additional acid will be needed. That's what the pH meter is for.

Also with no Acid additions to the grist my PH is estimated 5.3 and since I don't have a PH meter I am a little concerned that I may need to add some.
You might.

This is the Primer thread. The thrust here is to effectively remove almost everything from the water by diluting with RO and to make some basic salt additions. If you want to do other things then the story becomes more complex pretty quickly.
 

afr0byte

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Since reading this thread and building my brewing water from RO, my beers have improved dramatically!

Sorry to threadjack, but I have been digging around the internet to find an ideal water profile for coffee brewing. I use RO water at home for coffee brewing and it works horribly. I want to build my water just like I do for beer brewing.
This is the best information I could find on a target profile:

Ideal coffee/tea water profile:
No Turbidity
60-80 ppm Total Hardness
No Chlorine
150 ppm Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)
40 ppm Alkalinity (Bicarbonate)
6 - 8 pH (not sure how to adjust this since I won't be using acid malt)
0 ppm Iron

Can anyone tell me how to build this profile from RO water (lets say 5gal at a time)?????
For 5 gallons I'd go with 1 gram calcium chloride and .5 grams slaked lime
 

harebearva

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This is my first try at adjusting my water for all grain. I want to brew a Kolsch so I want to get it right.
My water profile is
Calcium 45
magnesium 24
bicarbonate 210
sulfate 11
sodium 4
chloride 9
alkalinity 170

Going by the Sticky's formula for a kolsch, I would (because of my high alkalinity) dilute my water by a ratio of 5:1 and add 1/2 tsp calcium chloride and 3% saurmalz. A question I have though, I do small 1/2 batches of 2.5 gallons and BIAB mash in 3 gallons of water so would I further reduce my calcium chloride to say 2 grams?

Thanks,
Hare
 

ajdelange

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Yes, the numbers are for 5 gallons so for 2.5 you'd use half a tsp i.e. 2.5 grams. For a delicate beer like a Kölsch you can even use a bit less (2 g) but don't use too little (say less than 1 g).
 

harebearva

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Yes, the numbers are for 5 gallons so for 2.5 you'd use half a tsp i.e. 2.5 grams. For a delicate beer like a Kölsch you can even use a bit less (2 g) but don't use too little (say less than 1 g).
Very good. Thanks for the info! Another quick question, Do you think the 5:1 dilution will reduce the levels of the other water values too much, sodium, magnesium and such?
 

ajdelange

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No. You can do this with distilled water and calcium chloride. Malt contains quite a bit of minerals - enough to supply yeast and other enzymes with all the co factors they need. The exception would be zinc. Many brewers use a yeast nutrient for this reason.
 

harebearva

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Great. I have some Wyeast nutrient that should fill in the gaps. Thanks for all the help!
 

Stankonia

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Quick question...

I'm trying to start with distilled water for my next brew, then add salts/minerals to the mash to reach my targeted pH and flavor profile. I've been able to figure the salt additions using Brewer's Friend to get a mash pH of about 5.38.

The pH of 5.38 I got was with adding all of my salt/minerals to the Mash Only, so I will be using a separate untreated round of DI water for the sparge. I have phosphoric acid on hand which I believe is 10%. I want to use this to acidify my sparge water to get the pH down (presuming a pH of 7.0 for the DI water) to around 5.3-5.4ish. Brewers Friend is telling me that I need .09ml of acid to drop the sparge water pH to the desired level. So I have a couple questions.

1. How would I go about measuring that tiny amount of the phosphoric acid??
2. Is .09ml enough to drop about 5gal of DI water down to 5.4ish..that just doesn't seem right.

Here is the link to the water profile on Brewers Friend

http://www.brewersfriend.com/mash-chemistry-and-brewing-water-calculator/?id=12HT05X
 

ajdelange

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Quick question...

I'm trying to start with distilled water for my next brew, then add salts/minerals to the mash to reach my targeted pH and flavor profile. I've been able to figure the salt additions using Brewer's Friend to get a mash pH of about 5.38.
I occasionally remind people that this is the Primer thread. It is dedicated to the KISS principle that one can add nominal amounts of CaCl2 and CaSO4 to DI (or low ion water) and rely on sauermalz to obtain a nominally correct mash pH and suitable ion profile in the finished beer. It is not the place for discussions of how to use spreadsheets, the arcana of lime treatment or whether the 5.2 buffer works. But no one else feels that these questions should go into another thread so why should you?

Unless you have quite a bit of dark malt then reaching a pH of 5.38 with salts alone is going to take a lot of salts. One should look at the pH effects of salts as something they must live with if they want high calcium, not as a tool for controlling mash pH. Mash pH is controlled by eliminating bicarbonate to the extent practicable and the use of acid in one form or another. There are lots of threads that discuss the details of the methods.

The pH of 5.38 I got was with adding all of my salt/minerals to the Mash Only, so I will be using a separate untreated round of DI water for the sparge. I have phosphoric acid on hand which I believe is 10%. I want to use this to acidify my sparge water to get the pH down (presuming a pH of 7.0 for the DI water) to around 5.3-5.4ish.
There is no need to do this with DI water. To begin with its pH is probably pretty close to 5.6 from carbon dioxide in the air. More to the point: it's pH doesn't matter because it has no buffering capacity and thus cannot pull the pH of the runoff (it contains no bicarbonate - or precious little - to neutralize malt acids).

Brewers Friend is telling me that I need .09ml of acid to drop the sparge water pH to the desired level. So I have a couple questions.
It would take 0.07 mL of 10% phosphoric acid to lower the pH of deionized, degassed water to pH 5.4. As you don't have degassed water at pH 7 but water with pH in the high 5's it is much less than this.


1. How would I go about measuring that tiny amount of the phosphoric acid??
You would draw it up in a tuberculin syringe or pipette. If you don't have those or if you don't have those with fine enough calibrations you could take 1 mL (which you could weigh out as 1.05 grams if you have a balance) measured with a larger syringe or a graduated cylinder and make up to 100 mL with DI water and then measure out 7 mL of that diluted (100:1) solution. Or dilute 10 mL up to a liter and use 7 mL. But as noted, you do not need to do this.


2. Is .09ml enough to drop about 5gal of DI water down to 5.4ish..that just doesn't seem right.
It's not right but it's not right because it is too much, not because it isn't enough. Most of the popular spreadsheets assume ideally dilute solutions (a good assumption here) and do not fully model polyprotic acids like phosphoric. That explains the 0.09 to 0.07 discrepancy. The one you are using obviously ignores dissolved carbon dioxide. These approximations are adequate. You should interpret 0.09 mL as being approximately 0 and get on with it.
 

mabrungard

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Most of the popular spreadsheets assume ideally dilute solutions (a good assumption here) and do not fully model polyprotic acids like phosphoric.
Bru'n Water is one of the rare tools that does evaluate and model the dissociation of polyprotic acids. Phosphoric acid is really the only one that is of significant concern to brewers.
 

harebearva

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I'm somewhat excited about my next water idea. Near my home there is an old roadside spring that flows year round regardless of draught conditions, that has been written about for at least 80 years. I'm gonna get a sample of it and send it off to Ward's Labs and see if it contains the "magic elixir" of brewing waters. I think it will make for some interesting brews :)
 

ajdelange

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It's already there in most mashes - it is the cause of most of the alkalinity in potable and brewing water. That's why it is the most important of the polyprotic acids. The failure to model it as such by most spreadsheets results in calculating a bicarbonate content of water of alkalinity 100 as 122 at pH 6 (where it is 122) and 7 (where it is actually 120) and pH 8.3 (where it is actually 118). Or, conversely, to calculate the alkalinity of water given bicarbonate content incorrectly. Though the errors are small they are of the order of magnitude caused by approximations that don't model phosphate completely.

The proper modeling of carbonic acid is also important where brewers try to emulate a natural carbonaceous water. The only way to get a close fit to a natural water is add chalk and/or sodium bicarbonate and supply CO2 until the desired pH is reached.

In attempting to predict mash pH one has to consider the polyprotic nature of the carbo system (as he does the phospho if he has used phosphoric acid).

Perhaps another way to express what I am trying to say is that many of the spreadsheets/calculators seem to fail to recognize that 1 M does not mean 1 N for many of the acids we consider such as carbonic, phosphoric, lactic and citric.
 

fogley

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AJ ,
thank you so much. Decided to take the plunge into understanding water as it pertains to brewing couple weeks ago. Because of this thread and your general knowledge I have been saved from many misconceptions and fruitless efforts.
Reading you answer the same questions over and over again actually served quite well to beat the general ideas into my mind. It will take time but eventually all brewers will come to understand your findings and beer all over will be the better for it. Got a pH meter on the way and will be making adjustments based on my taste.

thanks again
 

Stankonia

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There is no need to do this with DI water. To begin with its pH is probably pretty close to 5.6 from carbon dioxide in the air. More to the point: it's pH doesn't matter because it has no buffering capacity and thus cannot pull the pH of the runoff (it contains no bicarbonate - or precious little - to neutralize malt acids).
Thanks for answering my question. I am going to re-work my plan for water treatment and this time follow the primer in the OP. I have a couple more questions. Note: My original question was about treating sparge water, these are now just about the mash.


So it's safe to assume that the pH of DI water is around 5.6 for the sake of brewing with it? Is this the same with RO water?

Since DI water has no buffering capacity, and there are acids present in malt, a mash containing only DI water and a grist of base malt (2-row) will have a pH around 5.6 or lower, correct?

^If that is correct, then adding 1-2% acidulated malt will get the mash pH in the 5.3-5.4 range, correct? From this point wouldn't adding salts like CaCl and CaSO cause the pH to go too low?

I am wanting to brew a hoppy pale ale - About 5.3% abv and a shade under 50 IBUs mashing with 5 gallons of 100% DI water. I am going to follow the British beer profile in the OP

So, this would give me the base line of 1tsp CaCl + an additional tsp of CaCl + 1tsp gypsum.

When I enter this into a calculator (brewer's friend website) I get:

93 ppm Calcium
119 ppm Chloride
61 ppm Sulfate

pH = 5.37 at room temp
--------------

I know from reading your other posts you don't agree with amping up the sulfate to high amounts that are often suggested for hoppy beers (125+ ppm of sulfate), BUT, it seems like the ratio of Sulfate to Chloride is completely backwards for a hoppy beer?

The mash pH looks good, but this is without adding 1-2% acid malt as the primer suggests in the first post.


Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions!! :mug:
 

ajdelange

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So it's safe to assume that the pH of DI water is around 5.6 for the sake of brewing with it? Is this the same with RO water?
More or less. But it is more important to understand that the pH of the water is immaterial because of the lack of mineral content. It will go to whatever pH is dictated by the things you add (malts, acids, bases, salts).

Since DI water has no buffering capacity, and there are acids present in malt, a mash containing only DI water and a grist of base malt (2-row) will have a pH around 5.6 or lower, correct?
That depends on the amount of acid in the particular malts. Most base malts have a natural (DI water pH) around 5.7 but some base malts have lower values (as low as 5.60 and highly colored malts can have DI pH values of as low as 4 and perhaps even below that.


If that is correct, then adding 1-2% acidulated malt will get the mash pH in the 5.3-5.4 range, correct? From this point wouldn't adding salts like CaCl and CaSO cause the pH to go too low?
With base malt pH of 5.75, 2% acidulated would get you to approximately 5.55 and 1% to 5.65. If the base malt pH were 5.65 2% would get you to 5.45 etc. Of course if there is any colored malt in the grist that will have a pH lowering effect.

Calcium does release hydrogen ions and thus lower pH but the effect is not a strong one. The acid (from sauermalz or added lactic or phosphoric) will usually be the dominant influence but one should consider the effects of calcium as well. Most of the spreadsheets calculate a pH depression from this effect.

I am wanting to brew a hoppy pale ale ... I am going to follow the British beer profile in the OP ... base line of 1tsp CaCl + an additional tsp of CaCl + 1tsp gypsum...brewer's friend website) I get:

93 ppm Calcium
119 ppm Chloride
61 ppm Sulfate

pH = 5.37 at room temp
--------------

I know from reading your other posts you don't agree with amping up the sulfate to high amounts that are often suggested for hoppy beers (125+ ppm of sulfate), BUT, it seems like the ratio of Sulfate to Chloride is completely backwards for a hoppy beer?
I personally don't, in general, like heavily hopped beers and especially don't like them when the hops are rendered harsh by the sulfate levels that many folks love. So I tend to advise people to start modest with the sulfate. I'd brew the beer with 1 tsp each and then add more in the glass to see if I liked the effect, reserving the decision as to whether to add more gypsum until after those taste tests.

I do strongly advise against getting hung up on the chloride/sulfate ratio as a beer design parameter. Chloride has its effects and sulfate has its. While they are not orthogonal they are not antipodal either so you need to experiment to see what each does.

The mash pH looks good, but this is without adding 1-2% acid malt as the primer suggests in the first post.
Unless your grist contains some caramel, crystal or other colored malt it is likely you will need some sauermalz. The only way to be sure is to use a pH meter.
 

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Hi, I am going to be brewing an imperial stout:
12 lb pale malt
2 lb Munich malt
1 lb chocolate malt
1lb 120 L crystal
1 lb oatmeal
1/4 lb smoked malt
1/4 lb black malt
1/2 lb roasted barley

hops are low alpha types
1 oz Fuggles / boil
1 oz Crystal / aroma
1 oz Liberty / Flavor

And here is my water report:

Sodium, Na 8
Potassium, K 2
Calcium, Ca 12
Magnesium, Mg 1
Total Hardness, CaCO3 34
Nitrate, NO3-N 0.3 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S 4
Chloride, Cl 8
Carbonate, CO3 3
Bicarbonate, HCO3 28
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 28

Should I treat my water as you said ( 1 tsp calcium cloride per 5 gal) ?
Also, what do you think of the recipe itself - any thoughts or suggestions?

Thanks for a great article on h2o chemistry, and hope to hear from you soon !!!

Stewart
HighTower Home Brewery
Ball Ground, GA
 

brewski09

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Hi, I am going to be brewing an imperial stout:
12 lb pale malt
2 lb Munich malt
1 lb chocolate malt
1lb 120 L crystal
1 lb oatmeal
1/4 lb smoked malt
1/4 lb black malt
1/2 lb roasted barley

hops are low alpha types
1 oz Fuggles / boil
1 oz Crystal / aroma
1 oz Liberty / Flavor
I think the recipe looks good. I'm not a fan of crystal hops. They taste soapy to me, but that's a personal preference. Sorry I can't be of assistance on the water profile. What's the starting gravity, IBU, and ABV?
 

ajdelange

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The big decision you have to make, IMO, is as to whether you want sulfate in this beer. My usual recommendation is to leave it out, IOW to just brew with some calcium chloride and then taste test with and without some gyspsum additions in the glass to see if you like what sulfate does. Then brew it in the future with or without the sulfate according to what your taste tests tell you.

If I were doing this beer I would probably start with half a tsp of CaCl2/5 gal because it is going to be a pretty rich beer as is and you might not want as much chloride effect as you would in a less rich brew. Again, you can start low and experiment with calcium chloride taste test additions in the glass.

You have quite a bit of high colored malt in this recipe. There is some danger that your pH will drop too low. Some would advise you to add bicarbonate to insure that this doesn't happen. That would be good advice if they could assure you that mash pH won't go too high. The best thing to do would be to check the pH of a small test mash with a meter. If you can't do that I'd try the beer without any bicarbonate. At some point, if you want to brew beers with high colored malts, a pH meter is going to be a necessity. It is also a very valuable tool for brewing light beers.
 

yogensha

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First, I'd like to add my thanks to the long list in this thread. Fortunately, it started right around the time I was getting interested in water and I think it saved me from many common pitfalls. I'm eagerly awaiting the water book from Palmer and Kaminski, and I'm glad to hear that they consulted you during the editing process.

I do strongly advise getting hung up on the chloride/sulfate ratio as a beer design parameter. Chloride has its effects and sulfate has its. Why they are not orthogonal they are not antipodal either so you need to experiment to see what each does.
Can you clarify a bit here? It sounds like you're saying that the ratio isn't as important as the overall levels of chloride and sulfate. That is, their contributions are largely independent and don't necessarily negate each other. Thus, a 1:1 ratio at 50 ppm will have a different character than the same ratio at 75 ppm?
 

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Just a quick update. 70 - 80 batches later and using the Milwaukee pH meter from MoreBeer, the beers are turning out truly exceptional, the WaterCalc sheets have been very accurate in predicting mash pH, slightly better with paler beers, all pH values gravities and efficiencies hitting targets. At that sweet spot between recipe and process.

Looking forward to the Water book....

Cheers!


NanoMan
 

Rivenin

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So, it would take me awhile to get through all 70+ pages of this, but i read a bit into it, but i'm just making sure... the following that AJ put up, the further you go down, you just add it to the baseline, correct?

lets see if i'm getting this right.
-------------------------------
Baseline: Add 1 tsp of calcium chloride dihydrate (what your LHBS sells) to each 5 gallons of water treated. Add 2% sauermalz to the grist.

Deviate from the baseline as follows:

For soft water beers (i.e Pils, Helles). Use half the baseline amount of calcium chloride and increase the sauermalz to 3%

For beers that use roast malt (Stout, porter): Skip the sauermalz.

For British beers: Add 1 tsp gypsum as well as 1 tsp calcium chloride

For very minerally beers (Export, Burton ale): Double the calcium chloride and the gypsum.
---------------------

So this is for each 5 gallons, so lets say for example that my mash and sparge water = 10 gallons to get my 7 or so pre-boil gallons, i would just double up on the numbers, right?

As for the additions,
if i'm going for an IPA on this scale (burton), would be the following.

Baseline, 1tsp calcium chloride and 2% sauermalz... since the numbers aren't there, i'm guessing you are referring to the "doubling" as doubling from what the brittish beers are at? (thats the only reference i see to gypsum)

Making sure i get this.... my brain is about ready to explode as i've been reading all day on salt additions; this just simplified it, and i i think i'm over thinking everything :)
 

WileE65

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Man, Long thread... But lotsa' good info.
I feel like I need to monitor my mash pH, but i am having a hard time coughing up the cash for a good meter.
Is there any way to trust a test strip? I understand that there's a wide range in quality and span when looking at them. I 'think' that the ColorpHast strips seem to be high quality and have a quantifiable offset. (As seen in BrauKaisers evaluation.) http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=An_Evaluation_of_the_suitability_of_colorpHast_strips_for_pH_measurements_in_home_brewing
So, would this be 'good enough' for brewing? Are they consistant? Would one batch of strips (or its' age) cause them to be different from another? -Or do I have to bite the bullet and go big-time?
 

ajdelange

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So, it would take me awhile to get through all 70+ pages of this, but i read a bit into it, but i'm just making sure... the following that AJ put up, the further you go down, you just add it to the baseline, correct?
Yes, that's about right. There are a couple of ways to go about it though. I really prefer that people start off with nothing but calcium chloride and at that about half a tsp per 5 gal. That will almost never fail unless the beer is weird somehow i.e. has a ton of dark/roast malt in it.

When that beer is brewed taste it and then taste it again and again as you add more calcium chloride and some calcium sulfate. Take note of how much of those two salts you have added in the glass for the best taste and then brew the beer again with salt additions scaled to the full volume. This will get you in the ballpark but you will still need to experiment with different levels in the beer.

The Primer says to double up for things like IPA's. That is where you may eventually wind up but that is really in there because everyone thinks IPA's etc need a lot of sulfate. To some people's taste they do. To others they definitely do not. That's why I recommend the taste test approach.
 

ajdelange

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Is there any way to trust a test strip?
From what I can tell, no. But keep in mind this comment is coming from a color blind brewer. The assessment is based on some photographs I was sent a couple of years ago of test strips dipped in solutions at various pH's. I was asked to guess the pH's from the photos. A picture of the legend on the bottle was also included. Knowing that my eyes weren't good enough I did digital color measurements on the legend, found the parameter that varied most with pH, plotted that parameter vs pH and then measured that same parameter for the sample strips. Turned out the strip colors were not on the continuum of colors on the legend so I don't know how someone, even with normal color vision could accurately determine the pH.

Things may have advanced since the days of that dry lab but I'm not aware of them and would be the wrong guy to ask anyway.
 

brewski09

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ajdelange said:
From what I can tell, no. But keep in mind this comment is coming from a color blind brewer. The assessment is based on some photographs I was sent a couple of years ago of test strips dipped in solutions at various pH's. I was asked to guess the pH's from the photos. A picture of the legend on the bottle was also included. Knowing that my eyes weren't good enough I did digital color measurements on the legend, found the parameter that varied most with pH, plotted that parameter vs pH and then measured that same parameter for the sample strips. Turned out the strip colors were not on the continuum of colors on the legend so I don't know how someone, even with normal color vision could accurately determine the pH.
Having some non-brewing experience with pH strips, I can say the problem is the color of the wort will make the pH reading potentially inaccurate.

With that said, the strips are probably fine and if you want to get a sense of the pH, then go for it. The other option is to either buy a nice pH meter or trust the grain to buffer the water properly
 

WileE65

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Thanks AJ,
I see that the problem with the test strips is that they are very subjective. So, 'I Think it looks like this one' could be different from one person to another.
But, the accuracy is the real question. If I can assume that they are consistant, and add .35pH to the percieved reading, then they may be fine. I am just not sure how repeatable they are.

And Brewski,
I guess that's a good point. I never considered that the darkness of the wort could stain the pad and offset the reading.
 

ajdelange

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I see that the problem with the test strips is that they are very subjective. So, 'I Think it looks like this one' could be different from one person to another.
You can take the subjectivity out by doing what I did. Once you get a set of calibration pictures it's fairly simple to 'read' the pH from an iPhone (or whatever) picture using your computer's color meter and a calibration curve made from the calibration buffers. You would have to take the pictures under identical (from the color quality POV) conditions.

But, the accuracy is the real question. If I can assume that they are consistant, and add .35pH to the percieved reading, then they may be fine. I am just not sure how repeatable they are.
I can't assure you of that. Also, the variation between manufacturers not to mention lot numbers is not assured.
 

WileE65

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I really like your way of 'analyzing' the test strips, thereby taking the guesswork out of the process.
I had seen in this thread where Remilard stated "The ph meter is the single best hot side investment I have made (and useful on the cold side as well)."
I think that this along with the uncertainty of test strips has me leaning towards biting the bullet after all.
I guess it's not so bad though. After looking at various pen and stick style pH meters, I felt discouraged. I don't find any cheapos with good specs. I did however come across this:
Milwaukee Mw102 for $90 shipped.
I like the specs, and I believe that it would serve as a good reference thermometer also.
 

ajdelange

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The main problem with inexpensive meters seems to be their stability. If you check the pH of one of the calibration buffers several minutes after calibration you read something quite a bit different from the buffer's proper pH value. To see if you have this situation it is essential to do a stability check with any new meter. Instructions on how to do this and other pH meter info can be found at
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f128/ph-meter-calibration-302256/
 
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